According to a report from the International Organization for Migration, 500 migrant workers are feared dead after their boat was rammed and sank off the Malta coast last week. The workers were Syrian, Palestinian, and Egyptian nationals "seeking a better life in Europe."

The Associated Press reports that the boat was rammed by human traffickers in another vessel. There are only nine known survivors. Two of them spoke to the AP, explaining that there was "a violent confrontation between the migrants and the traffickers."

The IOM notes that this tragic incident brings the toll close to 3,000 for migrants who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean sea this year.

[2013 photo of migrants off the Malta coast via AP]